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Moreover, the complications in women who received intensive dialysis were few and manageable, the study authors noted.
"More intensive dialysis has improved pregnancy rates and dramatically improved pregnancy outcomes," Dr. Michelle Hladunewich, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, said in a journal news release. "This study provides hope to young women on dialysis who might want to consider having a family."
For the study, published online Feb. 13 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the researchers compared 22 pregnant women with kidney disease in Toronto and 70 similar patients in the United States. The Toronto patients averaged 43 hours of dialysis per week, compared with 17 hours per week among the U.S. patients.
In Toronto, 18 of the women conceived after they started dialysis and four of the women began dialysis during pregnancy. These numbers among the U.S. patients were 57 and 13, respectively.
Among patients who were undergoing dialysis when they became pregnant, the live birth rate was 83 percent in the Toronto patients and 53 percent in the U.S. patients. The median length of pregnancy was 36 weeks in the Toronto patients and 27 weeks in the U.S. patients.
Overall, the live birth rate was 85 percent for women who had more than 36 hours a week of dialysis, compared with 48 percent for those who had 20 hours or less per week of dialysis. Infants whose mothers had more than 20 hours a week of dialysis had healthier birth weights than those whose mothers had less dialysis time, the investigators found.
-- Robert Preidt
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